Go See Do Photography

A Lot of Travel, A Little Bit of History, and a Whole Bunch of Photos

Tag: Texas (Page 1 of 3)

Texas Hill Country Road Trip Recap

Mission Concepcion Sign

This trip took us to two national historic parks from very different times in American history. We had some of the best German food I have had in my life and I went to Germany in high school. We toured a bunch of wineries and had some of the best wine of my life. We experienced Texas’ first cold snap of the year. Locals were very excited to tell us Northerners about the “snow” they got. I feel like I got a taste of the real Texas on this trip.

If you are planning to explore the Hill Country, the most convenient airports to fly in or out of are Austin and San Antonio. We had flight credits from our canceled 2020 spring break trip on Spirit so we went with Austin. It is less than an hour and a half drive from Austin to San Antonio so no matter which airport you fly into, you would be able to see both cities.

The Alamo from the front

Between the two cities is the historic German town of New Braunfels which is home to Naeglins, the oldest bakery in Texas. Nearby, Greune is a fun place to step back in time and explore in the area. In San Antonio, exploring the Riverwalk and taking a boat tour are a must as well as touring the Alamo (but be sure to get your tickets in advance). If you have time, head a little outside the city to San Antonio Missions National Historic Park.

From San Antonio head north to Fredericksburg. Along the way, stop at Cascade Caverns in Boerne and have lunch at Little Gretel which is where we had the best German food of the trip! A litter farther north in Comfort, I recommend a stop at Newsom vineyards tasting room.

Fredericksburg Pioneer Memorial

Once you get to Fredericksburg, there is so much to do and The Museum of the Pacific War is one of the highlights of the city. We had great meals at Austlander and Pasta Bella as well as AMAZING pastries at the Old German Bakery. There are many wineries right downtown, but if you have time, I recommend you head out of town and check out William Chris Vineyards, Lewis Wines, and Kuhlman Cellars.

On the way back to Austin, stop in Johnson City and visit the LBJ National Historic Site where you can experience LBJ’s ranch and see and the Texas White House as well as the original 19th century Johnson Settlement. If you need to get out and stretch your legs some more, I recommend a hike at Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge.

In Austin, I recommend you take a tour of the city and enjoy Ladybird Lake. It might seem silly, but check out the Austin Public Library. In Austin, I had more restaurants on my TripAdvisor list than things to do and every single one we went to was amazing. If you are in Austin, I recommend Chuy’s for Mexican food, Torchy’s Tacos, Terry Black’s Barbeque, and Ramen Tatsu-ya. If you want to get away from the city for a bit, I love getting coffee at Mozart’s and enjoying it by the water.

Some of the most popular attractions in the Hill Country are state parks. Enchanted Rock, just north of Fredericksburg is one of the most well-known. One thing I did not anticipate before this trip is that Texas State Parks require reservations to get through the gate. I don’t know of any other state that does this and being that we visited during the week between Christmas and New Years, all of the parks near where we were staying were booked up. If you are planning a trip to the Hill Country and want to see some of the natural features, be sure to book them in advance so you’re able to get in. I guess this just means I have a reason to return to the Hill Country!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Texas Hill Country Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Pin this:

Hill Country Pinterest Graphic Road trip Pinterest graphic

Wordless Wednesday: Johnson Family Cabin

Log Cabin built by LBJ's grandparents

Wordless Wednsday: LBJ Cattle

Cow sleeping in field

Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park

Cow in Field

Cow grazing at LBJ Ranch

Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park is located in Johnson City (Lyndon’s family founded the town) about half an hour from Fredericksburg. The park “tells the story of our 36th President beginning with his ancestors until his final resting place on his beloved LBJ Ranch.” (NPS).

Log Cabin built by LBJ's grandparents

Log cabin built by LBJ’s grandparents in the Johnson Settlement section of the park

LBJ National Historic Park is made up of Johnson’s Boyhood Home, LBJ’s grandparents’ settlement, and LBJ’s Texas White House. The areas of the park are about 14 miles apart and a car is recommended for touring the park. Adjacent to the LBJ Ranch district of the park, LBJ State Park is home to the Saur-Beckmann Living History Farm, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, hiking trails, a bison herd, and a herd of Texas Longhorns.

Texas White House

LBJ’s ranch is probably the highlight of this park. Driving through the ranch and being able to see descendants of the president’s cattle (top) was a pretty unique experience. The Texas White House is one of the biggest attractions of the park. The Johnsons donated their Texas home to the Park Service while they were still alive but tours of the home were not offered until Mrs. Johnson’s death in 2007. In 2008, the President’s Texas office was opened to tours. Unfortunately, it is currently closed to visitors because of structural issues in the home. Visitors are still able to view it from behind a fence and get photos of it from an awkward angle (above).

LBJ's Presidential Plane in its Hangar

Parking at the hangar to get an up-close view of Air Force 1/2 (above) was pretty special too. Air force 1 was too large to land at the runway on the ranch so the president frequently flew a smaller JetStar to his Texas home, allowing him to continue his work away from D.C. The plane returned home to the park in 2016.

Overall, if you are in the hill country, I highly recommend a stop at LBJ National Historic Park. It will allow you to get a better picture of the 36th president (while skimming over issues regarding Vietnam) and his family history. The park is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day and is free to visit. For more information visit NPS.gov and Texas State Parks.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Texas Hill Country Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Pin This:

LBJ Ranch Pinterest Graphic

LBJ Ranch Pinterest Graphic

Wordless Wednesday: Becker Vineyards

Becker Vineyards

Wineries of the Hill Country

Wine Glass

Some of the links below are affiliate links and as such, I earn a small commission from purchases that allow me to continue telling you my stories without costing you anything extra.

One of the things the Texas Hill Country is known for is wineries. There are over 50 tasting rooms to visit all around the Hill Country but Fredericksburg is kind of the epicenter of the action. If you don’t have a car or aren’t planning on heading out of town, there are more than ten winery tasting rooms right on Main Street. That being said, I highly recommend taking the drive out of town to see the vineyards if you have the time.

Winery on the Gruene

While I frequently tout TripAdvisor for trip planning, it’s not my go-to when planning a wine trip. I find that people’s differing opinions on wine have left me disappointed by their recommendations. Instead, I turn to the professionals at Wine Traveler. They have pointed me in the direction of some spectacular wine I wouldn’t have found otherwise. Another source I used to plan this trip is a Lonely Planet guidebook, Wine Trails of the United States and Canada. All of the wineries they recommended were wonderful as well.

One thing we learned on this trip is that there is a little bit of political drama involved in Texas wine right now. Currently, a wine can be labeled a Texas Wine if at least 75% of grapes were grown in Texas. I’ve been told this is not uncommon in a new wine region. A few of the wineries are trying to change this now that Texas is growing more and more grapes. The wineries that use 100% Texas grapes are very proud of that fact and will point you to other wineries that do the same.

Because of COVID, most of the wineries were requiring reservations if you want to do a tasting. Some of them allowed you to just sit outside with a glass or bottle without a reservation, but it is important to do some research before you arrive. It would be a bummer to drive all the way out to a winery and be turned away because there’s not space for you!

Portrait in front of Wine Barrels

In the barrel room at Kuhlman Cellars

One of the most unique experiences we had was doing what they call the “Estate Experience” at Kuhlman Cellars.  We got a private tour where we got to go into the barrel room and taste wine right out of the barrel. At Lewis Wines, we had a private tasting with the winemaker. At Newsom Vineyards, we got to talk to the owner and winemaker who everyone in the Texas wine industry seems to know. We had some wonderful wines at Becker Vineyards served by some of the most attentive and friendly staff.  William Chris had some of the best wines we tasted on this trip and they had a beautiful lawn with live music that I would’ve loved to hang out in if we had a little more time. If you’re planning a wine trip the Hill Country, these are my top picks!

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to come back next week to read about our time exploring LBJ’s ranch. To read more about this trip, check out the Texas Hill Country Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Pin This:

Wordless Wednesday: Fredericksburg Lights

Fredericksburg Christmas Lights

Fredericksburg, Texas

Fredericksburg Christmas Lights

When planning our time in the Texas Hill Country, I did a ton of research, saving places to TripAdvisor. When I looked at the map, most of those pins were near Fredericksburg, so we planned to spend extra time in that area. Fredericksburg was also mentioned heavily in the Hill Country episode of Samantha Brown’s Places to Love which I have written about in previous installments of this trip report as one of the inspirations for this after-Christmas trip.

Fredericksburg, like many of the other towns in the Hill Country,  was founded by German immigrants in the mid-19th century fleeing from religious persecution back home. Today, the German feel is alive and well in Fredericksburg and from the architecture to the food. We had a wonderful German meal at Austlander, right on Main Street downtown. We also had a great breakfast and took some amazing pastries back to the hotel from The Old Germany Bakery. Honestly, the pastries may have been better than the ones we got from Naeglins in New Braunfels.

Fredericksburg Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights in the Marketplatz

Fredericksburg is also home to the National Museum of the Pacific War. Fredericksburg was the home of Admiral Chester Nimitz who was a fleet commander of the United States Navy during World War II. One of the sites that makes up the museum is the Admiral Nimitz Gallery which is housed in the old Nimitz Hotel that was run by Nimitz’ grandfather when it was built in the mid-1800s.

The museum is dedicated exclusively to the Pacific theater of the war. Part of the museum is the Pacific Combat Zone which features a re-creation of a Pacific island battlefield, including a Quonset Hut, a PT boat and base, a Japanese tank, palm trees, and machine gun placements. In the 1970s, the museum was gifted with a Japanese Garden of Peace and in 1995, the museum added a Plaza of the presidents that pays tribute to the ten United States Presidents who served during the war.

Another big draw to the area is the many wineries. If you read the trip report outline of this trip, you know we visited a lot of them. I will dedicate next week’s blog post to that exploration!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Texas Hill Country Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Wordless Wednesday: Cathedral Room

Cathedral Room at Cascade Caverns

Cascade Caverns

Cave from Above Ground

Cavern from Above Ground

The Texas Hill Country is known for wildflowers, wine, and natural beauty. I was surprised to learn that caves are a very common natural phenomenon in the Hill Country. Many Hill Country towns have their own caves. We decided to do some cave exploration on our drive from San Antonio to Fredericksburg. A few of the caves in the area require reservations and were all booked up because it was a holiday (New Year’s Eve). We ended up at Cascade Caverns because they operate on a first come first serve basis.

Cascade Caverns SignCascade Caverns, located in Boerne (pronounce Bur-nee), has been offering public tours since 1932. Informal tours date all the way back to 1875. The tour lasts 45 minutes to an hour and takes you through a half-mile of winding corridors to the cathedral room, 132 feet belowground. The shining star of the cave tour is the cathedral room which is home to Texas’ only natural in-cavern waterfall. The cave maintains an interior temperature of 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit all year. It was raining when we visited but water seeps through the cave allowing it to grow and change (slowly) all the time. In 1993, part of Father Hood, a Hollywood Pictures Film starring Patrick Swayze and Halle Barry was filmed in the cavern. A giant T-Rex prop from the film is still standing by the gift shop today.

Cave dwelling creatures are very unusual creatures. The rare Cascade Caverns salamander, a brown and white, translucent amphibian was first discovered in this cave and can only be found in Cascade Caverns and the nearby Cave without a Name. Many tricolored bats also make their home in the cave.

Cathedral Room Ceiling

Ceiling in the Cathedral Room

This was my first cave experience (although I have toured a few mines) and I appreciated that the ceiling was high enough that you are able to walk upright through most of the cave. It was surprising to me that you don’t have to wear a hard hat when on the tour, but I guess the ceilings are high enough in most places that it’s not needed.

The tour was very reasonable ($19.95 for adults and $12.95 for children at the time of writing) and the cave is not far out of the way if you are traveling between San Antonio and Fredericksburg. Beware that it can be wet in the cave, so appropriate clothing and shoes are important when you’re exploring a cave. In the summer, the cave does occasionally flood, so it is important that you call ahead to make sure tours are operating. If you are looking to camp nearby, there is a campground on the property. For more information about current tour offerings, visit CascadeCaverns.com.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Texas Hill Country Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Pin This:

Cascade Caverns Pin Caverns Pinterest Graphic

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén